Publications

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  • Design Issues in USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Looking Ahead by Looking Back

    ERR-243, January 25, 2018

    Six major issues currently facing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are explored in the context of changes that have shaped the program's history

  • Eligibility Requirements for SNAP Retailers: Balancing Access, Nutrition, and Integrity

    Amber Waves, January 25, 2018

    Tighter standards for food stores authorized to redeem SNAP benefits have implications for small retailers and could decrease the number of SNAP-authorized stores, which may affect participant access.

  • Comparing Alternative Mechanisms To Increase Fruit and Vegetable Purchases

    EIB-170, April 05, 2017

    ERS compares three possible enhancements to SNAP benefits to encourage fruit and vegetable purchases by participants

  • Illuminating SNAP Performance Using the Power of Administrative Data

    Amber Waves, November 07, 2016

    Linking administrative data—the official records of a government program—with data from large Federal surveys leverages the strengths of the two data sources, allowing analyses of public programs and policies not possible using either source separately.

  • Investigating Temporal Effects on Measured SNAP Participation Rates

    Amber Waves, March 07, 2016

    The rate of participation in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—the share of eligible individuals who choose to participate—differs depending on the timeframe used to measure eligibility and participation. SNAP participation rates are lower when measured annually than if measured for an average month.

  • Annual and Monthly SNAP Participation Rates

    ERR-192, August 25, 2015

    FNS estimates monthly SNAP participation rates; ERS has provided a complementary measure, estimating the proportion of the eligible population who participate at some time during the year. Each measure can be useful in assessing SNAP.

  • Improving the Assessment of SNAP Targeting Using Administrative Records

    ERR-186, May 26, 2015

    Targeting of SNAP benefits helps ensure the program effectively reaches those in need of assistance. ERS assesses how well the program is targeted to low-income households and indicates the data sources that result in optimal assessment.

  • Most Recent Recession Doubled Share of SNAP Households Receiving Unemployment Insurance

    Amber Waves, February 03, 2014

    A recent ERS study found that an estimated 14.4 percent of households participating in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also received unemployment insurance at some point in 2009—nearly double the estimate of 7.8 percent in 2005. The poorest and least educated SNAP households are the most likely to rely on SNAP alone.

  • Participation in SNAP and Unemployment Insurance: How Tight Are the Strands of the Recessionary Safety Net?

    ERR-157, November 07, 2013

    More households tended to receive benefits from both SNAP and Unemployment Insurance during the recent recession, but joint participation varied by household's education level and their annual income relative to the poverty level.

  • Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods in Schools: Implications for Foodservice Revenues

    EIB-114, June 26, 2013

    Over half of secondary school students consume competitive foods on a typical day; most choices would not meet nutrition standards. Foodservices in affluent districts obtain more revenue from competitive foods.

  • Food Security of SNAP Recipients Improved Following the 2009 Stimulus Package

    Amber Waves, June 13, 2011

    Higher SNAP benefit levels and expanded eligibility increased food spending by low-income households and improved food security.

  • Food Security Improved Following the 2009 ARRA Increase in SNAP Benefits

    ERR-116, April 26, 2011

    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 increased benefit levels for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) and expanded SNAP eligibility for jobless adults without children. One goal of the program changes was to improve the food security of low-income households. We find that food expenditures by low-income households increased by about 5.4 percent and their food insecurity declined by 2.2 percentage points from 2008 to 2009. Food security did not improve for households with incomes somewhat above the SNAP eligibility range. These findings, based on data from the nationally representative Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement, suggest that the ARRA SNAP enhancements contributed substantially to improvements for low-income households.

  • Can Food Stamps Do More To Improve Food Choices? An Economic Perspective

    EIB-29, September 27, 2007

    Eight economic information bulletins compile evidence to address the question of whether the Food Stamp Program could do more to encourage healthful food choices.

  • Struggling To Feed the Family: What Does It Mean To Be Food Insecure?

    Amber Waves, June 01, 2007

    Food security-consistent access to enough food for active healthy living-is strongly associated with income, but household circumstances and State-level policies and economic conditions also matter. Health problems are more prevalent among members of food-insecure households than among otherwise similar individuals living in food-secure households. Food security statistics provide reliable information on the hardships households face in meeting basic food needs.

  • An Economic Model of WIC, the Infant Formula Rebate Program, and the Retail Price of Infant Formula

    FANRR-39-2, January 03, 2005

    This report develops an economic model that provides the theoretical framework for the econometric analyses presented in the report's companion volume, WIC and the Retail Price of Infant Formula (FANRR-39-1). The model examines supermarket retail prices for infant formula in a local market area, and identifies the theoretical effects of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and its infant formula rebate program. Special attention is given to the rebate program's sole-source procurement system by which a single manufacturer becomes a State's "contract brand" -the State's one supplier of formula to WIC infants-in exchange for paying rebates to WIC. When a manufacturer's brand is designated a State's contract brand, the model predicts that supermarkets increase that brand's retail price. The model also predicts that an increase in the ratio of WIC to non-WIC formula-fed infants in a local market results in an increase in the price of the contract brand and, through demand substitution, a relatively small price increase for noncontract brands.

  • Feasibility and Accuracy of Record Linkage To Estimate Multiple Program Participation: Volume III, Results of Record Linkage

    EFAN-03008-3, November 18, 2004

    This study investigated the feasibility of linking administrative data from multiple USDA food assistance and nutrition programs. This report contains findings from Phase II of the study, which collected and linked 2000-02 administrative data on clients of the Food Stamp Program (FSP) and the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in Florida, Iowa, and Kentucky. The report finds that the percentage of FSP infants (children) with contemporaneous participation in WIC ranged from 84 to 94 percent (50 to 57 percent). Meanwhile, the percentage of WIC infants (children) with contemporaneous participation in FSP ranged from 22 to 38 percent (29 to 50 percent). Most FSP women who gave birth during the 3-year period participated in WIC for some period (83 percent in Florida and 91 percent in Iowa). Phase II also examined the relative timing of participation across programs and the individual and household characteristics associated with multiple program participation.

  • Sharing the Economic Burden: Who Pays for WIC's Infant Formula

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2004

    Each month, USDA’s WIC program provides infant formula at no cost to almost 2 million nutritionally at-risk infants in low-income households. But while WIC’s infant formula is free to WIC participants, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Infant formula is no exception to this elementary lesson of economics.

  • WIC and the Retail Price of Infant Formula

    FANRR-39-1, June 01, 2004

    Rebates from infant formula manufacturers to State agencies that administer the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) support over one-quarter of all WIC participants. However, concerns have been raised that WIC and its infant formula rebate program may significantly affect the infant formula prices faced by non-WIC consumers. This report presents findings from the most comprehensive national study of infant formula prices at the retail level. For a given set of wholesale prices, WIC and its infant formula rebate program resulted in modest increases in the supermarket price of infant formula, especially in States with a high percentage of WIC formula-fed infants. However, lower priced infant formulas are available to non-WIC consumers in most areas of the country, and the number of these lower priced alternatives is increasing over time.

  • Aiming for Targets, Saving on Arrows: Recent Insights from Two USDA Food Assistance Programs

    Amber Waves, September 01, 2003

    In USDA's food assistance programs, taxpayer dollars are the inputs. The outputs are the programs' goals: to provide needy persons with access to a more nutritious diet, to improve the eating habits of the Nation's children, and to help America' farmers by providing an outlet for the distribution of food purchased under farmer assistance authorities. Both farmers and USDA strive to operate efficiently.

  • Infant Formula Prices and Availability: Final Report to Congress

    EFAN-02001, October 01, 2001

    This final report responds to Congress's request for a study on the number of suppliers of infant formula in each State or major marketing area and comparison of the costs of formula that is included in USDA's WIC program versus that of other formula.